Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Choice

There was a comment made to me yesterday that pretty much ruined my whole morning.  It came across a little more harshly than intended, but it still stung because let's be honest, we infertile's are sensitive.

I was talking to a friend about someone else we know who is going through infertility treatments and how they were strapped financially but because she coupons, they were able to survive through the tightest times.  This friend of mine (who doesn't like the person I was talking about one bit) said, "Um, I do NOT feel sorry for someone who is struggling because they are spending their money on infertility treatments.  That's a choice she's making!  Feed your family or infertility treatments?  She made that choice to spend all her money!"  After a very deep breath, I politely said, "I disagree.  It's really not a choice for some people."

I understand where she was coming from.  I understand she was saying we CHOOSE to spend our money on these treatments.  It is a choice to spend the money, but what other choice do we have?  If you want to share your life, that bond with a child, see your family grow, your parents hold their grandchild, your husband hold his baby, if you want to find that unconditional love you've heard about and longed for, you spend the money to adopt or get treatments for whatever it is that's ailing you.

It IS an ailment most of the time.  Infertility is an illness.  It's not something you chose to have "happen" to you!  It's usually indicative of a problem you need to have addressed or corrected.  A hormone problem, an immunodeficiency issue, infection, scar tissue, deformities, and on and on.  So technically, it's choosing to correct an illness or problem, or not.  Is it any different than choosing to get treatment for other serious illnesses?  People who don't know the longing, the emotional roller coaster month after month, the hope, the loss, the sadness can't understand.  They may try.  They may think they do...but they don't.  They say things like, "Enjoy your free time!" or "At least you can go out any time you want." or "Come get my kids, that'll change your mind!" or "Just relax!  You are thinking about this too much!"  and every single one of those hurts beyond words.

We've had our fun with our free time.  We've gone out any time we wanted to.  We would love to take your kids and we know it won't change our mind!  We have relaxed for years and that doesn't get you pregnant!  Trust me on this one.

Anyway, back to my story.  This friend of mine happened to realize that the person she was talking to actually fit the same scenario she was talking about and honestly, I saw a physical change in her appearance when she realized she had hurt and offended me.  I know she didn't MEAN to hurt me.  I know she had no ill-intent when she said what she said.  I still decided it was best to end the conversation.  A while later, she came back and apologized if she had hurt me with her comment.  I had already decided that I would do my best to educate her because it was just her ignorance about infertility and the situation itself.

So, I said, "It's ok.  I don't expect you to understand.  It's hard for someone who has never wanted a child so badly to imagine how it feels to think or feel that you will never have a child.  Imagine if you lost your baby right now and tried but could never get pregnant ever again?  It wouldn't be a choice for you either if you thought you could fix the problem.  There are days I would gladly go without food if it meant having a child of our own!"  Yes, she is pregnant.  Accidentally.  She's 22 years old and extremely naive.  I know these things, yet I couldn't help but try to educate her.

Her response to all of this was, "Oh....really?" and that concludes our lesson for the day.  The student taught the teacher a thing or two with those two words.  I just shook my head and again, ended the conversation as politely as possible.

My morning was shot.  I managed to get it back together by lunch time, but it got me thinking.  How many of you would go without food to pay for your treatments or your medicine?  Is this really a choice? By definition, yes.  "Choice: An act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities."

I was pregnant once.  I remember the joy I felt.  The little life I couldn't wait to share with my son or daughter.  I remember that love I felt for my child even though I had no idea who he or she was.  I know what it feels like to know I'm going to be a mother.  I know what it feels like to have that taken away from me.  I can't erase those feelings and I can't forget how good in my soul I felt for that brief period of time.  How could I not try to fix this problem of ours?  How could I ever choose to ignore those feelings?  I can't.  It's not a choice.  Not for me.

In one way or another, I will become a mother.  Rik will be a father.  My mom will babysit her grandchildren.  My best friend will get to love my little one.  There's no "choice" about that.


  1. Great post. And I'm so sorry you had to deal with that comment. What you said in return is right on though! And actually my husband and I HAVE gone without food during some fertility treatments, well not starving or anything. But there have been plenty of times we had to cut corners or eat boxed mac and cheese a few times a week to get by!!! We've given up vacations and doing fun date night things all in our quest to pay for these treatments! We are still paying off our IVF each month, $200 a month that we could be doing some fun with! But we are not complaining because we are finally on our way to meeting our miracle! Ugh. It really bothers me when people make comments like that.I used to just let them roll off my back but now I fire back and purposely make them feel like shit :)

  2. this really is a great post. i'm so impressed by your calm response to her. i doubt i would have handled the situation half as well.

    by the way, thanks for stopping by my blog! i'll definitely be following you on your journey. good luck! hugs!

  3. You handled it well. Unfortunately, I don't think people like her will ever understand what it's like unless they have to go through it too, and no one wishes that upon anyone.

  4. You handled it beautifully and the best part is that hopefully that one person will be more conscious of her comments in the future.

  5. Oh goodness! These hurtful comments suck but I love the post you got out of it lol

    I really think you dealt with it calmly and with a nice head help up high. It is a choice I guess but like you said its the same one would do to treat any other illness or condition. Yes, we can go about our lives and not spend a dime on these treatments but at the end of the day we didn't choose to be infertiles we choose to fight it. You said it best! good for you for educating her!

  6. There are some people who will never get it. I remember one of the hardest things for me was not being able to get pregnant right around the time that those little icons started going up that said "I make people, what is your super power?". It was innocent enough, but it was like a stab through the heart. You will get to the other side of this. It will feel surreal and you will still remember how raw and horrible it was to battle through this, but I know it will happen for you. You will be a mother and you'll be the best mom.

  7. Fertiles will never understand. Never. That's not their fault, the just can't. Some will be more sensitive to it b/c they're our close friends or family and have seen our pain and our journeys, but at its core, infertility is something that you sadly have to experience to truly understand.